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Bryce Churchill

About Me

Photo by Eraj Asadi
Photo by Eraj Asadi

Bryce Churchill defies definition as an artist. He’s produced chart-topping songs, is an accomplished songwriter, vocalist, guitarist, and percussionist, has produced his own music videos, co-runs an independent record label, operates a music studio in Brooklyn, and is a published writer and teacher on subjects relating to mysticism, alchemy, astrology, and esoteric traditions.

He first began experimenting with acoustic and processed sounds on a home 4-track tape recorder in 1994, after playing guitar in several post-punk bands throughout Los Angeles. He moved to Las Vegas where he studied art, photography, and learned his way around a local recording studio. He later graduated from the UCLA Extensions multimedia program in 1997, and went on develop content and sound design for companies such as Electronic Arts, Macromedia, Casio, Yahoo!, and NBCUniversal.

His musical skills were augmented with formal classical training in vocals and sitar in 2004 under the world renowned classical Indian music teacher Ali Akbar Khan at AACM in San Rafael, CA. From 2008-2010 he hosted and DJ’d a large number of underground warehouse events around NYC. He founded Newroz Recordings in 2011, a music label and recordings studio located in Brooklyn, NY, where his DIY roots led him to build most of his own custom pieces of studio gear.

As a freelance motion graphics and video artist in New York City, Bryce has combined his multiple disciplines into a skill set that is unique and vertically integrated. He is constantly learning and evolving his craft through exploring new forms and combinations, and seeks to achieve a timeless quality in his work—something that is rare in today’s copy-and-paste methodology.

Career Highlights

8/28/1975 Born in Downey, CA—a suburb of Los Angeles and home to NASA’s Apollo and Spaceshuttle programs, and noted by historians as the “Cradle of the Cosmic Age.” It was later developed into film studios, where titles such as “Iron Man” 1 & 2, “The Prestige,” “Spider-Man” were shot.
1979 I grew up with my father and stepmother, staying with my grandmother after school. I spent my summers with my mother in Pahrump, NV, a rural town located between Las Vegas and Death Valley.
1982-1989 In grade school I was awarded Ronald Reagan’s Presidential Academic Fitness Award for scoring in the top 5% of students my age in California. As a result, I was selected with handful of other students to take the college-level SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) in middle school.

In middle school, I became immersed in LA skate punk culture. I built my own ramps and listened to bands like The Misfits, Dead Kennedys, Bauhaus, Jesus and Mary Chain, and The Cure. The bass player for Social Distortion lived across the street from me, and I began to dream of being a rock star.

1990-1993 By high school, my interests became cemented in music and art. I taught myself to play piano and acoustic guitar, and started writing songs. I joined my first band around 1992, a Joy Division-influenced group called The Thorns. We played The Roxy, Coconut Teaser, and opened for goth icons Christian Death. I won awards in both the art and photography categories in our senior year show, and played guitar and vocals in two different bands at the senior year talent show.

I also began an interest in metaphysics and esoteric studies around this time, teaching myself Zen meditation, tarot divination, and Hermetic theurgy. These practices helped spark a creative fire that led me to pursue art and music as my life’s path.

1992 While shopping antique/junk stores with family in Pahrump, NV, I stumbled upon a violin that was in a state of disrepair which I bought for $13 (half price.) Once I got it home, I discovered that the inside said, along with some other words in Italian, “Stradivarius.” I brought it to a violin dealer in Los Angeles to be appraised, who said that while it was not built by Antonio Stradivarius, it was another maker’s model based on the his original design (much like how you hear non-Fender Stratocaster-looking guitars referred to as a “Strat”) and valued it at $2k. That’s a lot of money when you’re 17! With this, I acquired my first real professional guitar rig. I took this incredible stroke of luck to mean that life had something very special for me to do.
1993 After graduating high school, I left to live in a rural area of Nevada, and then Las Vegas for a period of two years. I enrolled in fine art and photography at a city college with the intent to transfer to a university later.
1994 Responding to an ad in a Las Vegas paper, I joined as guitarist for two local industrial/EBM bands. Although the bands eventually fell through, I was able to learn my way around an 8-track reel-to-reel and sampler-based studio. During this time, I honed my songwriting skills, and traded some gear for a 4-track cassette recorder. From these recordings, I formed my first solo project: The Loving Breed.
1995 After both my bands, as well as a relationship, ended in Las Vegas, I felt it was time to move back to Los Angeles. I was struggling at this time with the dilemma of how to pursue my artistic vision vs. paying rent. I was living in poverty in a trailer park. I entered the UCLA Extensions program for multimedia and design, with the intent that I would be able to use this to make a living until my music took off.

At UCLA, I studied logo design, print production, and multimedia production. I was fortunate to have been mentored by teachers there who had worked with Brian Eno, Saul Bass, and the Los Angeles Times.

1996 I released my first solo EP–A Silent Place, by The Loving Breed. At this point, I began to feel confident in my writing style. One of my final projects at UCLA was a website with streaming music for the San Francisco-based goth/industrial/fashion magazine, Permission. Shortly after graduating, I took a bus to SF to check out the scene and visit friends. The first day I was there, I was introduced to someone who shared offices with Permission magazine who offered me a job on the spot. I stayed for several weeks before moving there permanently. It was the beginning of the Dot-com boom. The money was good, and we lived like rock stars. The startup I worked at was eventually acquired by Razorfish.
1997 From with the burgeoning goth/industrial scene in the late 90’s, I started a band with Tony Havoc (Scarlet’s Remains) on drums, Debra Fogarty (Diva Destruction) on keyboards, and Johann Schumann (Christian Death, Shadow Project, Mephisto Walz.) We played some songs from A Silent Place, along with some new material. However, after Tony and I suddenly both lost our apartments and had to survive for a time by couch surfing, progress with the band stalled and we eventually disbanded to pursue other projects. I had discovered music outside the goth/industrial genre (Scorn, Aphex Twin, Underworld, the Chain Reaction label, UK drum’n’bass, and others) and started to build a home studio.

I began working at Electronic Arts in late 1997, the launch of their brand new online gaming branch (Ultima Online) and creating immersive web experiences for their various video game brands. I worked on game franchises such as Warhammer, Sim City, EA Sports, Road Rash, Jane’s Combat Simulations, and Skullmonkeys

1998 While the Drum’n’bass scene was blowing up in the UK and Europe, a small scene was emerging in the SF Bay Area. I started producing my own tracks under the name Panic (later changed to Panic Over London) on an Emu e6400 Ultra sampler, listening meticulously to the vinyl releases of the day and trying to reverse engineer exactly how they got those sounds. I DJ’d underground warehouse parties and started a small crew with Controlled Substance (Moving Shadow, Project 51.)
1999 My animation skills landed me a job at Macromedia to help launch a Shockwave and Flash content site called I built online games, animated South Park clips in Flash, and worked with Margaret Wallace to score game music for the first online version of Tetris. Macromedia and its products were acquired by Adobe in 2005
2000 I began writing for one of the first online electronic music blogs, Urban Sounds, with art director Marie Kacmarek and writer Phillip Sherburne (Pitchfork, The Wire, Resident Advisor), and later wrote a featured piece, Minimalism Towards Transcendence.

After reading my piece, Roger Black (Font Bureau co-founder, publication designer of Rolling Stone, Newsweek, New York Times Magazine, and countless others) and his branding agency Interactive Bureau approached me to come onboard there as an interaction designer, creating wireframes, conducting usability studies, and practicing the Alan Cooper method of persona-based interface design.

Urban Sounds hosted a weekly IDM/minimal electronica night at The Black Cat jazz club in North Beach, San Francisco. I was a resident DJ, and managed several of the events. Around this time, I began DJing downtempo/chill parties around the Bay Area, including a few epic all-night events at Alan Watts’ old house boat in Sausalito.

2001 With the intention to build my first project music studio, I moved into a duplex on 7th Ave in Oakland with the owners of drum’n’bass label Thermal Recordings, Kjetil Sagstad (aka Polar/K, Subtitles Recordings, Certificate 18, Breakbeat Science, R&S, Moving Shadow), Hanz Munz (aka Angel Zero, Breakbeat Science, Subtitles, Warm Communications), and later Ryan Powell (aka Gridlok, Project 51, RAM Records, Renegade Hardware, Virus Recordings.) I cut my teeth on dance music production here, learning from some of the leading producers in the States.

Self-released first full length CD of Panic Over London recordings. Played out by world-renowned DJs DB and Dara in NYC, who approached me to release “Highway 2 Hell” (a drum’n’bass mashup of AC/DC’s classic) for a new Ministry of Sound sub-label that specialized in drum’n’bass. However, I was not able to clear the rights to the version before the label idea was shelved.

During this time, the Silicon Valley Dot-com bubble burst, and I (and many of my colleagues) were struggling for work. I managed to get by doing product animations for tech and finance companies.

The Sexkult music project was conceived as a submission for a tribute compilation CD dedicated to Rozz Williams, the singer (and collage artist) behind Christian Death, Shadow Project, and Daucus Karota, who committed suicide on April Fool’s Day, 1998. I covered the song, “The Face” from Ashes.

2002 Inspired by the degree symbolism in the Ordo Templi Orientis, I went back to my musical roots and began a full-length album as Sexkult, titled The Utmost In. I wrote a storyline that formed the basis of the album’s 12 tracks, and was my first vocal-based project since The Loving Breed in 1997. I began recording on 9/11, and audio samples from TV news feeds I collected that day formed the first track, “Wander.”

Synopsis: The Utmost In tells a story of disillusionment and self-doubt in a world overwhelmed by conflicting visions of the future. The character in this story is lost, wandering in a cloud of confusion and chaos. He finds a glimmer of hope, a vision of his highest ideal, that seems to be an answer to every question. But alas, it ends up being just another illusion… In a moment of complete despair, he finally opens himself up to every possibility and eventually finds fulfillment of the original vision of his dreams.

I moved into Oz House, a collective household in North Oakland started in the 80’s by a group of artists, Buddhists, occultists, and social activists. I moved my music studio into a seven-sided room in a Victorian house nearby in Berkeley.

2003 On July 30th, I produced and performed The Rite of Mercury, a mystery play written by English mystic Aleister Crowley, in Berkeley, CA. I designed costumes that reacted to backlights, which were installed around the stage, and scored a musical soundtrack that was played live by the actors. I moved into Thelema Lodge in the Rockridge area of Oakland shortly after.

After freelancing for a period of about 2 years, I was hired as a designer at Liquid Agency in San Jose for the Intel Centrino product launch. I art directed photo shoots, created illustrations, did print material layouts, and retouched photos.

2004 The Sexkult: The Utmost In album project finally wrapped up. I printed and sold it through CD Baby, which was featured in its “Most Sexiest Albums” list, and charted in the top 100 plays on MySpace for Goth/Industrial.

A song from the album, “I’m Your Beast,” was selected for the film soundtrack for Mango Kiss. In the scene, the two main characters, a lesbian couple in San Francisco, visit a BDSM club together.

Although the new album was getting a lot of attention, I felt called to take a step away from everything and further my musical training. I moved to San Rafael in Marin County, and enrolled in the Ali Akbar College of Music to study Indian classical vocals and sitar. I was fortunate to be able to learn in the Maihar gharana lineage directly under Khansahib himself, who’s family taught Ravi Shankar (sitar instructor to George Harrison of The Beatles) and violinist Yehudi Menuhin.

2005 After 9 months of intensive study, I moved back to Oz House and began to focus on guitar and building the next incarnation of my recording studio. A few days before my Saturn Return, I walked out of my job at an SF advertising agency. On the drive home, I pulled over and spent my last paycheck on a new Gibson SG guitar. I began playing and studying it seriously for the first time (having just learned enough to write songs through the years), and I was able to apply much of what I had learned at AACM to give me a very unique playing style. I learned 1 song a day from a menu of Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, David Bowie, T. Rex, and various psychedelic garage tunes.

I also built my first instrument from an Indian tambour (a drone instrument) that used an EBow to vibrate the strings into dense layers of harmonics, which I ran through a pedalboard of analog effects. I performed a few dark ambient/experimental events around Oakland, including Orbis Nex (VIAL Magazine) and a live drone performance with Bay Area electro artist Nezzy Idy.

2006 In May, I moved to New York City. I had developed a long distance relationship over the previous 6 months, and was ready to start a new chapter in my life. I had also been feeling stunted by the music scene in the SF Bay Area, and opportunities I was being presented with in NYC were too good to turn down.

I moved into an apartment in the East Village, with nothing by my laptop, clothes, books, my guitar, and an amp. We began hosting the monthly Aiwass Study Group meetings in our East Village apartment. Motivated to begin rebuilding my studio in NYC, I began a few DIY projects which included a Marshall JTM-45 amp replica, an MOTM analog modular synthesizer by Synthesis Technology, and a clone of the Roland TR-909 drum machine.

I began freelancing in NYC as a Flash motion graphics animator, working on ads and information demos for Deep Focus and Dow Jones.

Work in progress… It’s just starting to get interesting… 😉